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©Copyright: 2005
Steve Kirks

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  Friday, June 18, 2004

Radio can help Wes

Wes Falter mentions that he has a dormant weblog that's made it to the new buzzword.com site. He's wondering how to get the info--two ways. Backup the site using the backup link or using a script that pulls the entries via XML-RPC. If you have a copy of Radio, write the script and store the entries in the object database (Rogers wrote about it in his book). From there, you can write another script to extract the text and render as text files. With the text in hand, Radio could render according to rules and send the files anywhere.

Since you are on a Manila site now, you might be able to create a "sub site" of the current one. Ask your hosting provider to help, but you'd have to have the backup root (from buzzword) loaded and then Manila configured to serve it.

I wish I had the raw UserTalk experience required to write the scripts. If I find someone who can do it, I'll link to them from here.

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Lessons Learned about the weblogs.com Transition

Rogers Cadenhead is getting into the Manila hosting business with a jump-start from Dave. He's got all 3000+ old sites from weblogs.com moved to a new, super fast server on some decent bandwidth. I helped during the testing phase and tried to put out some of the Dave-flames, knowing what was going on in the background. This transition has taught me some things that I would like to share with everyone:


Everyone needs friends in situations like this. I made a friend at the last BloggerCon that I was able to help transition a site using a backup copy. Dave had a friend (Rogers) that was willing to go out on a limb, open his wallet, and help Dave. Friends are the people you call when you've hurt your back, can't move, and need someone to help you off the floor. When they answer the phone, they don't complain, call you an idiot or hang up ubruptly. They offer to help, extend a hand and pick you up.


There are few excuses for not having a backup of something important. My home computer is backed up intermittently because I don't keep anything of serious value there--I keep it in two or three places. I'm ready to change that plan--I'm going to build a large home server to store all of the "junk" that I don't want to delete (yet). I realize that many of these sites were built when Radio didn't exist, but it's the perfect solution if you want a simple weblog. It runs on your computer and upstreams a copy of the content to the web. If your webhost dies, then you just change the upstream location and you're done.


UserLand has been great throughout this outage. They've provided silent but vital help to Rogers and Dave when asked. As the steward of those sites for so long, they had a keen interest in making sure that things turned out well. Given the whole of the situation, their contribution was welcome and appropriate. Best of all--from the standpoint of the enterprise--UserLand can focus on delivering innovative software products.

Do I want to be an ISP?

I do not want to be an ISP. I am a technology translator, explaining technology to people in an easy and comfortable fashion. I enjoy talking to people about ways to solve problems using the technology they have in ways they've never thought of before.

I have an ISP background, maintained a large enterprise-class network, and have (and continue) to run my own web servers, yet I don't want to be an ISP. There are too many important things that come with a cusotmer base of thousands that I can't do. I have a "day job" that prevents me from being the ISP guy full time. Why provide a service if you can't do it right? Rogers is on the right track--let's watch his weblog and see how he feels in a few months. Remember the passage about friends above: offer a hand first and criticism later.


I've learned that criticism can have two roles: help and hurt. I saw a lot of hurt, mainly be people that had no direct involvement with weblogs.com sites. I also saw some help, people pointing to alternate sites, alternate hosting and more. Criticism has it's place, but we rarely have enough information for a given situation to make an accurate assessment. Ask if criticism is welcome before delivering your knowledge. Sometimes, if it's received well, the same words can get you much farther. Life is too short to go through it angry and self-rightous.

The rest of the world

A friend sent me and email about this yesterday, recognizing Dave Winer's name from when I told her about BloggerCon. She asked "What does this mean for weblogs?" Her concern was genuine because in her mind, weblogs.com, UserLand and Dave Winer were weblogs. My answer, "Nothing." It was really a non-event blown out of proportion. On it's the most basic level, it was a server transition gone bad. Someone stepped in and made it go "good." The technology press and blogosphere, smelling a conflict, wrote articles with a slant towards doom and gloom. What was the result? A friend without a technology background that that "weblogs" in general were headed for "the door".

I might write more later. For now, I offer thanks to Dave and Rogers for letting me help where I could. I was honored to have been included.

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